Q & A

To whom can I dispute an unfair decision by Medicare? Upon retirement, I moved to Mexico — to live a more affordable life with dignity, not to lie on a beach in some resort. I didn’t sign up for Part B since one cannot use Medicare in Mexico. I had little income, and couldn’t afford to pay the premium for something that was of no use to me. When I returned to the states seven years later, Social Security slapped on a penalty for each year I hadn’t paid the premium. Unfortunately, my retirement and Social Security benefits place my income level just barely above the acceptable level in New Mexico to have the premium forgiven. To be able to pay the Part B premium plus the penalty I would have to, at age 71, find employment.

Answer: The restatement of Medicare’s punitive rules for people who live overseas without Medicare and then come back to this country is accurate. I sympathize with her and all like her who are only seeking a decent life during their retirement years. Unfortunately, the way things stand now, I don’t have great advice for her or any high hopes that she can get the agency to cancel these late-enrollment penalties. I’d suggest she call her local SHIP office and see whether she has any recourse. Also, while her income by New Mexico standards may be too high to grant her relief from these penalties, perhaps there is one or more Medicare Savings Programs that she can use. Read more…

Source: Philip Moeller, via www.pbs.org, 8/12/2015)

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